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  • Are We a Bunch of Softies?

    Is America getting soft? President Obama seems to think so:

    The way I think about it is, you know, this is a great, great country that had gotten a little soft and, you know, we didn’t have that same competitive edge that we needed over the last couple of decades. We need to get back on track.

    Obama says he wants to remedy our softness and restore our competitive edge, yet the regulatory state that he constantly expands is actually the source of the problem. Our growingly intrusive government is beginning to resemble what Alexis de Tocqueville, author of the insightful work Democracy in America, called “soft despotism,” in which a coddling government creates soft citizens.

    Soft despotism consists of the government gradually consuming its citizens’ liberty by promising to provide for all their needs, wants, and desires. In order to become the provider, the government must also become the decision maker. In effect, the citizens trade decision-making power (self-government) for comfort produced by the government. Tocqueville speaks of the effects of this coddling government: “it does not break wills, but it softens them, bends them, and directs them.”

    Our government seems to have a hand in all of our affairs, from determining health care needs with Obamacare to promoting certain diets and proclaiming which light bulbs we may use. Steven Chu, President Obama’s Energy Secretary, illustrates the nanny state’s mentality in his comments on the regulation of light bulbs: “We are taking away a choice that continues to let people waste their own money.” Why burden the people with making their own decisions when the government knows best?

    Eventually, we must pose Tocqueville’s famous question to our own government: “can it not take away from [us] entirely the trouble of thinking and the pain of living?”

    The coddling administrative state is paternalistic—but unlike a father, who wants his children to grow into adults, the government “seeks only to keep them fixed irrevocably in childhood.” The dangerous outcome of the nanny state is soft citizens with a childlike sense of entitlement. This reality is evident in an interview of a Wall Street protester who was recently asked, “Why should anyone pay for your college tuition?” The interviewee could not produce an articulate response beyond “it’s what I want.”

    This particular protester’s attitude is hardly the norm, but it should be considered a warning. America remains a strong nation with industrious citizens, but we must remain vigilant and not tolerate attempts to stamp out self-government.

    Edward Walton is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit: http://www.heritage.org/about/departments/ylp.cfm

    Posted in Obamacare, Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    9 Responses to Are We a Bunch of Softies?

    1. Enjoyed your commentary

    2. windl says:

      i think you are a Bunch of Softies.

    3. MJF in CT says:

      In a way, yes, the people of America have become softies.

      Things that people say offend us.
      Display a cross and the ACLU sues you to take it down.
      College graduates want their loans paid by someone else.
      More people depending on the government every day.
      People don't want "entry level jobs" they all want to make the big bucks right away.
      No one graduates High School and goes into manufacturing, mechanics, plumbing etc. Everyone wants to be a "College Man".
      No one wants responsibility of their actions.
      People have public displays when someone is killed so they can all hug and cry together.

      At one time, we Americans were tough and got the job done. If someone fell and was lost, we didn't curl up in a ball, we got the perpetrator and saw that he was punished. People at one time realized that they either were not College material or couldn't afford to go and worked in a factory. Now there are no factories and everyone sits behind a computer. Yes, we Americans have gotten soft in many ways but we don't have to remain that way. If we would simply "do it on our own" and "grow a pair", we'd be able to get rid of this regime that keeps us suckling on the nipple of the government.

    4. LoudAmerican says:

      His remedy for our softness is to keep us there and more co dependent of the government's soft sided assistance

    5. ericshurgged says:

      The America politicos through education etc have softened Americans up to a feel good society….No winners, no losers, just participants. This is wrong, absolutely wrong for any population….it breeds lack of effort on the part of a nation to succeed. Feel good is a socialist idea to allow the elitist politicians to control all. America was won by hard work and sacrifice. The world wars were a continuation of this attitude to free a major portion of the world from tyrannical leaders. Now, we have on in Whitehouse? There is too much government in our lives. This needs to change and soon. People need to take responsibility back for themselves and strive and struggle for their own existence and future prosperity. Entitlements only keep good people from excelling through their efforts. Entitlements can only exist until other people run out of money….Guess what America, in case you have not noticed…..We are broke. painfully broke. Government has driven real jobs and real businesses out of this country in name of lower prices for the people…Now you have a majority of these other nations controlling good portions of our debt……how did this happen. We were promised great handouts and we took them….Instead of saying no thanks, i will work for mine….we accepted them without forethought on the consequences …. and ever expanding and controlling government . Ayn Rand warned us with her novel Atlas Shrugged to be aware of this encroaching central government. did we listen NO. should we listen now? yes. WE need to take action as the teaparty organizations have shown….real change is needed….and it is needed now. ….

    6. Joe A says:

      I find it interesting that Mr. Obama thinks Americans are softies, since he is the one that is advocating for us to become more reliant on the government to do our daily functions. The double-speak that comes out of this man's mouth is astounding. This man's words are akin to leading sheep near the edge of the cliff, just so he can push them off.

      I am utterly amazed at how malevolent this administration is. It would see the subjugation of its citizenry to an institution that cares only about itself, and is bound and determined to make sure that all personal liberties are destroyed, all in the name of a false notion of "equality". All that understanding of "equality" does is create a permanent working class, that is at the behest of the government, to serve that government.

      Obama is truly diabolical.

    7. Bobbie says:

      we certainly wouldn't be softies if we weren't represented by one who treats Americans as if!

      ahh, you didn't get your cookies and milk today? we'll get the tax payers right on it! no, no, no don't you move, we took on your responsibilities so we'll get them for you!

      Political correctness is one major softener, ALSO!! wonder why and who started it besides intolerant people!

      America needs Ron Paul! He's strong everywhere America has been severely battered. He's right on his assertions of Obama spreading America's troops too thin. Just waiting for a crisis! America needs the troops home that have no reason to occupy abroad. America needs the strong leadership of Ron Paul who understands and respects individual freedom, rights and liberties, who believes in self governing to sustain those respects and he is (American) constitutionally discipline without falter! Herman Cain is rockin' like a hurricane and we also love him. I agree with him that people don't understand his tax plan and I wish Michele Bachmann wouldn't have called him out on something she could've further investigated. But we love her too…

      one disappointment in "gay" people defaming her because she gave an honest opinion and even added it would be up to the states not her, yet the gay people are disingenuous to imply they'd appreciate it if she would've lied to get the pleasing of the gays. just shows you who some people are at heart. self serving.

      All honesty is appreciated and Michele Bachmann is sincere even though the truth might hurt, people should use it to build tolerance. There are many people who are true to this country of all nationalities. She's soft all due to leadership behind our backs, NOT AMERICANS!

    8. James says:

      Good stuff, Ed

    9. Heritage Sucks says:

      The people of America need to be protected from the practices of the meatpacking industries and private insurance companies whose profit functions tend to ignore the humane aspects of life. It's not coddling -it's setting rules and regulations under which free enterprise can exist without having to sacrifice the consumers.

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